Different Giant challenge for New York in Draft

What a difference a year makes. Last season, New York had the fourth pick in the draft and were the rumors ever swirling. An exciting time became downright ecstasy for most Giants fans when Ernie Accorsi was able to engineer a trade for Eli Manning.

Not this year. Big Blue, having surrendered its top pick in order to acquire the rights to Manning, doesn't take its first turn at the podium until the second round – the 43th overall selection.

However, according to Accorsi, that doesn't bother him one bit.

"We have the guy we wanted in Manning so that's over with," Accorsi said. "When you have the guy you really wanted you don't get upset over it."

Last season, the Giants obviously had eyed Manning all along. If he wasn't available, the clear-cut second choice was offensive tackle Robert Gallery. However, going into the draft Accorsi knew it was going to be Manning or bust, since the Raiders, with the second pick, had absolutely no plans whatsoever of allowing Gallery out of their sights.

"Last year we had our eye on the target, we just had to figure out how to get there," Accorsi said of Manning.

Despite a lack of a top pick, don't expect to see the Giants moving into the first round. According to Accorsi, it's just not worth it.

"It's very, very unlikely that we'll move up," the GM said. "I don't want to give up picks or touch next year's draft."

Accorsi also squashed the most rampant Giants draft rumor – that the club was dangling CB Will Allen for a first round pick.

"I'm not sure where that one came from," Accorsi said, "but we haven't offered Will Allen to anyone."

However, don't be at all surprised if the Giants trade down in order to accumulate more selections.

"We might look to trade down to pick up more," Accorsi said. "But if not we just have to make these four picks count."

The Giants apparently are lucky this year, in that it's not quite as stacked a draft as last year's was believed to be.

"It's a good, deep draft," Accorsi explained. "But it's a flat-line draft. We could get the same type of talent at 43 that we would at 25.

"If there's a year not to have a number one (pick), this is definitely it."

Another advantage to life without a top pick is that New York's rookie salary pool is much less, a big factor in allowing Big Blue to have such an active, aggressive offseason.

"We signed three players that we feel are first-round talents – and they're all young," Accorsi said of the trifecta of Plaxico Burress, Kareem McKenzie and Antonio Pierce. "Since we really didn't lose anybody major, we have a lot less holes than a lot of clubs heading into the draft."

However, there's no doubt that despite all the moves, New York could certainly afford to upgrade talent and speed at specific spots.

A backup long-term answer at running back to Tiki Barber would be a wise investment. So would a blocking tight end, which would relieve Jeremy Shockey of most of his blocking duties and allow him to roam free in the secondary.

Elsewhere on offense, there's no question more receiver help would be welcomed. Amani Toomer, mostly due to injuries, is coming off his worst season in years, and Burress has hardly established himself as a long-term, dependable star just yet. The third receiver spot is a question mark, as it's been seemingly this whole decade. Tim Carter and Jamaar Taylor both have the speed, strength and hands to handle the job admirably. But do they have the durability? Carter, in his three years, has yet to finish a season, and Taylor was hampered most of his rookie campaign by various ailments. David Tyree has been dependable when called upon, but isn't the blazer you'd want running down the field, especially playing behind Toomer and Burress, big wideouts that are hardly a pair of track stars.

The addition of McKenzie certainly stabilizes the offensive line, but New York would be wise to jump if a tackle prospect arises. The club has next to no depth on the outside and could also insure themselves against another subpar year from Luke Petitgout.

Defensively, tackle's a concern as well. Fred Robbins was solid last year, but really his claim to fame is that he was the only D-lineman able to stay healthy all last season. With William Joseph penciled into the starting front line, it's safe to say that DT is still most definitely a need position.

The Giants now appear to have a glut of talent at linebacker for the first time in years. But they need to keep their eyes open this draft for secondary help. Will Allen is going to be a free agent after the season and might need to be replaced. Inside, only Gibril Wilson is a safety the Giants are fully confident in. Brent Alexander is up there in age, and Curry Burns showed some signs last year, but is hardly a sure thing at this point.

With their four picks, it wouldn't be at all surprising to see them select an offensive tackle, a defensive tackle, a receiver and a safety.

Whether they'll pan out or not falls on Accorsi and his support staff. Hopefully the guys they're looking for will still be there when they pick in the second (43), third (74), fourth (110) and sixth round (186).

There's always the conventional draft wisdom that states that unless you're picking number one overall, you'd always like to be one spot higher.

"No matter where you are, you can always convince yourself that there's one less good player than your pick," Accorsi laughed. "If you're at 15, you're going to think there are only 14 good players."

As for the lack of compensatory picks, Accorsi said he wasn't surprised. The Giants signed 17 free agents last offseason and didn't get credit for two key losses – QB Kerry Collins and LB Micheal Barrow – because the club released those veterans.


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